Usually, doctors tell us all the bad things that can happen if we don’t take their medicines or follow their advice. Scary, but what about positive reasons to get better? There are many such good things to shoot for.
Positive goals are important, because fear only takes you so far. It motivates you, but it also depresses you and gets old after a while. Fear is not as good a long-term motivator as positive goals that we can actually enjoy. Here are some; what are yours?
1. More energy. You probably feel livelier when your sugars are in the right range, and more tired when they are not. High or low blood sugars sap you.
So let’s say you find better ways to keep your blood glucose close to normal. You will have more energy. What will you do with it? Maybe you will have some fun, do enjoyable things. Maybe you will enjoy being more productive, like accomplishing more work or having a cleaner house, if that interests you. Maybe you will learn new things, take an exciting class, or gain a new skill. Maybe you can pay more attention to your family and strengthen relationships.
I only hope you don’t waste your new energy on drudge work and things you don’t like. That will defeat the purpose. Imagine one or two good things you could do more, if your body had more vitality.
2. Less anxiety. Most people with an illness like diabetes worry about it a lot. We spend a lot of time thinking about complications, risks, and threats of poor health. If you can get better control of your sugars, you will be less anxious.
How much better life feels when we’re not walking around in fear! The clouds of tension drop away and we can see the beauty of life. Food tastes better when we’re not worrying about what it’s doing to our bodies.
3. More comfort. Some diabetes-related symptoms drain your comfort. Neuropathy hurts or buzzes or feels cold or numb. Bladder symptoms might keep you in the bathroom much of the day. Insomnia makes it hard to feel rested.
All these symptoms tend to improve when glucose control improves. Imagine feeling comfortable most of the time. Imagine enjoying your body, not needing to distract yourself or take medicines just to keep daily life tolerable.
4. More fun. Not only can you do more if your diabetes is well-controlled, but many self-management activities are fun, too. Activities like walking in a park, playing a sport, or dancing bring enjoyment as well as improved glucose numbers. Better diabetes control may enable you to do pleasurable things, such as have more enjoyable sex.
5. More self-confidence. Poor glucose control makes us doubt ourselves, but succeeding at a difficult challenge like diabetes management will raise our self-confidence.
Psychologist Albert Bandura coined the term “self-efficacy,” which means believing you can do what you set out to do. High self-efficacy correlates with success in a wide range of activities.
Self-efficacy often spreads out. You succeed at one thing, and you have more confidence for other things. One study showed that people who overcame their fear of snakes became more able to take on other things they were afraid of, such as public speaking.
What will you use your self-efficacy for? What are things you have held back from doing, because you don’t think you can do them? Perhaps when you better master diabetes, you will gain the confidence to try them, too.
6. Happiness. More confidence, more energy, and less anxiety will probably leave you happier and more at peace. Many people feel diabetes as a weight pressing them down. Imagine having that weight greatly lightened. Not gone, but much easier to carry. You will be in a better mood, and people will like to be around you.
7. Take a load off your family. People you love worry about you and diabetes. They may express it well with quiet support and practical help, or poorly with criticism and trying to control your life, but your illness is a weight on them, too.
If you have issues with hypos or with disabilities such as sexual dysfunction, these obviously affect your loved ones. When you start to get better and have fewer symptoms, more energy, and better mood, their lives will improve as well as yours. Your relationships may improve, too. You may inspire others to take better care of themselves, or to take on other challenges. If you can do it, they can too!
To actually get better, of course, you need some things. You have to believe you can do it. You have to have a plan that can work. We give a lot of these strategies here on Diabetes Self-Management.
You have to have the resources and self-confidence to carry your plan out. But it’s also important to have motivation — some positive goals that make change worth the effort. I’ve listed some general ideas here. You might take one or two, make them more specific, and apply them to yourself.
And tell us: How has your life gotten better with improved management? How would you like it to improve? What might be a positive goal for you?